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UK’s Sunak projected to lose seat in election as new polls suggest historic Tory defeat

WorldUK’s Sunak projected to lose seat in election as new polls suggest historic Tory defeat

That would be 10 lower than in 1997, when the Conservatives last lost power to the Labour Party.

Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during a tour of a nuclear power facility in Sizewell on Wednesday. Photo: AFP

Any of those results would be devastating for the Conservatives, who like to style themselves as the UK’s natural party of government, likely ushering in a lengthy period in opposition.

Even worse for Sunak, the Savanta survey shows him losing his own seat of Richmond and Northallerton – which would be unprecedented for a serving prime minister – though the Tory Arthur Balfour lost his seat in 1906, a month after resigning as premier.

“The Conservative Party is set for the largest defeat in its history,” YouGov said in a statement. It said the governing party is set for “significant losses” in the South West, South East and East of England.

Sunak is widely seen as having run a lacklustre and error-strewn campaign, including facing near-universal criticism earlier this month for leaving early from D-Day commemoration events in France.

He has acknowledged that people are frustrated with him and his party after more than a decade in power, dominated at times by political turmoil and scandal.

All three polls put Labour leader Keir Starmer easily on course to enter Downing Street as prime minister: More in Common said the opposition is heading for a 162-seat majority, which in itself is approaching the Labour’s best-ever election result, the 179-seat majority secured in 1997 by Tony Blair.

YouGov projects a 200-seat Labour majority; Savanta has them with a 382-seat advantage.

Such numbers would have seemed fanciful just five years ago, when Labour slipped to its biggest electoral defeat since 1935 under Starmer’s left-wing predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn.

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer meets staff at a supermarket in Wiltshire, England. Photo: PA via AP

More in Common sees Labour winning 406 seats, YouGov has them on 425 – a record – and Savanta sees them winning 516 seats – almost four in every five constituencies.

The trio of surveys all project the Liberal Democrats will make significant gains, recovering their status as the UK’s third party, which they lost in 2015 after being punished by the electorate for serving five years in coalition with the Tories.

More in Common put them on 49 seats – up 38 on 2019’s tally, while YouGov put them on 67 – which would be a record. Savanta puts them on 50, almost level with the Tories.

YouGov sees Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage’s Reform UK party taking five seats, while the other two surveys have him winning none, despite recently overtaken the Tories in at least one national poll.

A long fieldwork period may not have captured Reform’s recent rise in the polls, More in Common Director Luke Tryl said on the social media platform X.

Separately, a constituency poll by Survation in Clacton, where Farage is standing as a candidate, showed him easily winning the seat with 42 per cent of the vote, compared with 27 per cent for the Tory incumbent, Giles Watling.

Nigel Farage, leader of Reform UK, is predicted to win a seat. Photo: Bloomberg

Survation said it polled 506 adults in Clacton on behalf of Arron Banks, a long-time ally of Farage.

While the More in Common survey projected a smaller Labour majority than other recent so-called multi-regression and post-stratification (MRP) modelling, a 162-seat majority would still be more than double that secured five years ago by former Tory prime minister Boris Johnson.

“The fact that this projection showing the Conservatives barely holding 150 seats is one of the most favourable to the Conservatives shows how deep a hole the party finds itself in – with barely two weeks to go for them to change the dial,” Tryl said in a statement.

Savanta found that in Richmond and Northallerton, Sunak is heading for a 29 per cent vote share, compared to 34 per cent for his Labour rival Tom Wilson. Still, the other two surveys see the prime minister retaining his seat relatively comfortably.

Meanwhile, one of Sunak’s police bodyguards has been arrested over alleged bets on the date of the election made before it was announced, authorities said.

The Metropoliton Police said it was contacted by Britain’s betting regulator, the Gambling Commission, on Friday over an investigation into “alleged bets made by a Police Constable from the Met’s Royalty and Specialist Protection Command, which were related to the timing of the General Election”.

The Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards opened an investigation and the officer was suspended, it said. He was then arrested on Monday on suspicion of misconduct in public office and taken into custody before being bailed.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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